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MADISON — Wisconsinites have the power to stop the spread of invasive species. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is calling on the public to take simple precautions to halt the spread this summer.

According to the DNR, invasive species are nonnative plants, animals, and diseases that cause great ecological, environmental or economic harm. There are several invasive species already present in Wisconsin, and if more are introduced, they could risk our native plants’ survival if they become established in Wisconsin.

In the state, the invasive species rule makes it illegal to possess, transport, transfer or introduce certain invasive species in Wisconsin without a permit. The DNR states regulations help designate which species are classified as restricted or prohibited. This is determined based on the degree of harm the species may cause to people, the native ecology or the economy.

Who should stop the spread and what to do

1. Hikers and campers

Hikers and campers can help stop the spread. It is recommended by the Wisconsin DNR that hikers and campers clean mud and dirt off their shoes, along with removing seeds and burrs from their clothing before visiting other places.

Cleaning and removing dirt, mud, seeds and/or burrs can help to prevent moving invasive plants to new areas via seeds that may be on clothing or in the mud or dirt.

2. Campfire builders

Campfires are fun and a memorable part of Wisconsin summers, but firewood is a known pathway for the movement of many invasive insects and pathogens. Common insects and pathogens include emerald ash borer, spongy moth and oak wilt disease.

To help protect the state’s trees where you live, play, or camp, the DNR suggests the use of local firewood to avoid moving pests to new places.

For example, if you are intending to have a campfire in Racine or Kenosha County, get your firewood from Racine or Kenosha County.

3. Anglers and boaters

Wisconsinites and those traveling to Wisconsin may partake in aquatic activities this summer.

The DNR advises that people clear recreational equipment and gear after every use by inspecting gear for dirt, mud, seeds, and other debris and removing as much as possible. On that note, they also recommend draining all water from gear before leaving a site. It is suggested that items be washed with 140-degree water or steam to remove invasives too small to see. 

Boats, kayaks, paddleboards, innertubes, lifevests, and other items need inspection.

Quagga and zebra mussels, Eurasian water-milfoil, New Zealand mud snails and Asian clams are common invasive species in the aquatic setting.

4. Gardeners

Those with gardens or homeowners with land are encouraged to plant and promote beautiful native plants. Native plants can benefit pollinators, birds and other wildlife or traditional gardening plants that are noninvasive.

Not sure what to plant? Check out the DNR’s Plant Native Plants.

Along with planting, gardeners are encouraged to remove invasive species when possible. Plants to keep an eye out for:  purple loosestrife, hairy willow herb, yellow iris, nonnative phragmites (common reed), butterfly dock, water lettuce, water hyacinth, lesser celandine, and frogbit.

5. Anyone

Anyone can do their part this summer to help stop the spread of invasive species.

Report invasive species early to the DNR. Reports help the DNR respond quickly and control invasives before they spread to new areas causing negative impacts on Wisconsin.

Want to know more? Visit the DNR’s invasive species webpages to learn more ways to prevent invasive species from establishing in Wisconsin.

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